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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

58                     Writing and Literature
common to Egyptian and the scripts akin to Phoenician could
be due only to a causal nexus between latter and former. This
conclusion is admitted in the recent monograph by the late
Professor Bauer, one of the most strenuous opponents of the
Sinai hypothesis. When at last my own article came to Sethe's
knowledge, he espoused its conclusions with enthusiasm, and
his second article proved the starting-point for nearly two
hundred papers and books that have supported or disputed my
contention from every angle. Three American expeditions
organized by Professor Kirsopp Lake and a Finnish one led by
Professor Hjelt have increased the number of proto-Sinaitic
inscriptions found at Serabit from ten to thirty-six, few of them,
however, well preserved and some offering no more than
two or three signs. In summing up the result of all these
labours and discoveries it must be frankly admitted that the
outcome has been disappointing. About half a dozen words
or phrases appear to have been identified with probability,
but for none except the name Ba'alat does convergent con-
firmatory evidence exist to prove the identification, nor can
we point to such self-verification as would ensue if any of the
inscriptions could be convincingly translated from beginning
to end. Certain scholars like Butin and Grimme have, indeed,
published translations, but the supposed import does not
inspire confidence, and few experts would be ready to accept
their versions as the true message of the Sinai texts.
Happily, however, this negative result has been offset by
striking new testimony from Palestine itself. It was Albright
who first observed the resemblance to the Sinai characters
borne by a three-letter inscription found at Tell el-Hesi by
Bliss in 1891. A similar fragment of pottery from Gezer shows
as one of its signs a clear hand suggesting yodh or kaf; this
fragment has been assigned to a very early age, several scholars
dating it to the first half of the second millennium. Much
more disputed are the date and nature of a sherd inscribed in